(HealthDay News) — A panel of three biomarkers together with CA 19-9 is better than CA 19-9 alone for diagnosing early-stage pancreatic cancer. These findings were presented at the American Association for Cancer Research’s special conference on Pancreatic Cancer: Innovations in Research and Treatment, held from May 18 to 21 in New Orleans.

Ayumu Taguchi, PhD, MD, from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and colleagues assayed biomarker candidates and CA 19-9 in plasma samples from patients with pancreatic cancer and healthy controls. The four-biomarker panel was validated using blood samples from two independent cohorts, including early-stage pancreatic cancer patients, healthy controls, individuals with chronic pancreatitis, and individuals with benign pancreatic cysts.

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In these analyses, the researchers found that the four-biomarker panel correctly identified approximately 90% of samples as having come from patients with pancreatic cancer when compared with samples from healthy individuals, patients with chronic pancreatitis, or patients with pancreatic cysts. 

The four-biomarker panel also correctly identified as negative for pancreatic cancer blood samples from approximately 90% of healthy individuals, patients with chronic pancreatitis, and patients with pancreatic cysts.

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“Our biomarker panel was much better at distinguishing patients with pancreatic cancer from those who were healthy, had chronic pancreatitis, or had pancreatic cysts compared with CA 19-9 alone,” Taguchi said in a statement. 

“We need to further validate our panel using larger numbers of samples collected before diagnosis of early-stage pancreatic cancers,” he said. “However, we are hopeful that we can develop a panel that will have clinical application.”